2012 ACC Preview - Coastal Team Breakdowns
Miami's David Perry
Miami's David Perry
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 3, 2012


Preview 2012 - CFN ACC Coastal Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish


Preview 2012

ACC Coastal Team By Team

 
ATLANTIC
- 2012 Boston College Preview | 2012 Clemson Preview
- 2012 Florida State Preview | 2012 Maryland Preview
- 2012 NC State Preview | 2012 Wake Forest Preview 
 
COASTAL
- 2012 Duke Preview | 2012 Georgia Tech Preview
- 2012 Miami Preview | 2012 North Carolina Preview 
- 2012 Virginia Preview | 2012 Virginia Tech Preview 

- 2012 ACC Preview
- 2012 ACC Unit Rankings
- 2012 CFN Schedules & Picks
- 2012 CFN All-ACC Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 ACC Atlantic Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2012 ACC Coastal Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish  

1. Virginia Tech
2012 CFN Pred: 10-2
2012 ACC Pred: 6-2

Offense:
QB Logan Thomas was eased into the offense a year ago, his first as the starter. This season, he gets a crash course in being the face of the attack. The junior is an emerging superstar behind center, a 6-6, 245-pounder with a great fastball and uncommon mobility for a big man. However, he lost a ton of last year’s support staff, including the Hokies’ 1,700-yard rusher, top two receivers and four starting offensive linemen. Thomas complemented his teammates in 2011. In 2012, he’ll be hoisting them on his shoulders. It’s been a long time since Virginia Tech has been unable to produce a capable back, but it’s going to be challenged this fall. While redshirt freshman Michael Holmes has the edge, rookie Drew Harris will get a long look in the summer. Thomas should have no problem locating his targets this season; Marcus Davis, Dyrell Roberts and D.J. Coles are all at least 6-2. Davis caught 30 balls a year ago, and has the unique blend of measurables to turn the heads of NFL GMs. The line appears to have found the right combination, with four new starters getting promoted alongside holdover C Andrew Miller. Senior Nick Becton really asserted himself in the spring, which is good news since he’ll be in charge of protecting Thomas’ backside.

Defense:
Bud Foster is at it again. The longtime Hokies’ coordinator led a sophomore-dominated D to seventh nationally in points allowed in 2011. Now that all of those second-year players are gradually becoming upperclassmen, Virginia Tech expects to be one of the nation’s nastiest units. Only two starters are being replaced, both from the secondary. Cornerbacks Antone Exum and Kyle Fuller are back, looking to reprise their roles as All-ACC performers. The newcomers on the last line of defense will be FS Detrick Bonner, a converted corner, and rover Kyshoen Jarrett. The front seven is going to be mentioned right there with Florida State as the most dominant in the ACC. The defensive line rotation is deep and oppressive, slapping opposing lines with explosiveness from the inside and the outside. Ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins are lightning quick, combining for 13 sacks a year ago. On the inside, Derrick Hopkins, Luther Maddy and Antoine Hopkins are undersized and extremely hard to block. Besides the safeties, linebacker is the other pressing concern. Oh, the unit has talent, but it also has durability issues after Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and Bruce Taylor couldn’t finish the 2011 season, and Tariq Edwards missed spring following surgery. If the linebackers can stay healthy all year, this team has the ingredients to become Foster’s best D in years.

2. Georgia Tech
Predicted Overall Record: 8-4
Predicted Conference Record: 5-3
 
Offense:
The Yellow Jackets will once again employ the triple-option that’s become the trademark of Paul Johnson’s teams on the Flats. However, while Tech has consistently ranked among the nation’s most prolific ground games, its execution and pop have been lacking of late. Johnson hopes to change the trend with the return of most of his 2011 offense, and a few tweaks that could include some shotgun and pistol formations. The program is encouraged by the core of the running game, QB Tevin Washington, the dynamic one-two punch of A-back Orwin Smith and B-back David Sims and all but one starter up front. RG Omoregie Uzzi, in particular, is an outstanding blocker, with a good shot to be named All-ACC for a third straight year. Oddly enough, though, the run-first attack would greatly benefit from a few more big connections downfield to a streaking receiver who gets behind the secondary. Reversing last season’s results, one touchdown pass in the final eight games, got a whole lot tougher with the early departure of star WR Stephen Hill, placing the onus on Washington and unproven receivers Jeff Greene, Jeremy Moore and Darren Waller to exploit defenses that stack the box to stop the run.

Defense:
Georgia Tech is looking for more big plays out of its offense in 2012. It’s looking for the same from Al Groh’s D as well. The coordinator’s kids allowed at least 30 points in each of last year’s final four games, three of which were losses. At the heart of the problem was an inability to generate much pressure after a Sept. 24 outburst versus North Carolina, getting to the quarterback just 10 times in the final nine games. Groh, sensing he still has major holes to fill along the three-man line, will consider the use of more blitzes in the fall. Since confidence in the new ends and nose tackle is low, the Yellow Jackets are likely to ask more from the back eight, the strength of the unit. The linebackers are going to be terrific, an athletic collection of defenders that flies to the ball quickly. While Julian Burnett is a guided missile from the inside, outside ‘backers Jeremiah Attaochu and Brandon Watts possess the closing speed to wreak havoc off the edge. Even after tanking late in the year, the defensive backfield displays loads of potential as well. Four starters return, headed by next-level CB Rod Sweeting. If Groh can milk just a little more production from his defensive linemen, look out. His D is very close to being very good in 2012.
 
T.4 Miami

2012 CFN Pred: 6-6
2012 ACC Pred: 4-4

Offense: So who gets the ball from head coach Al Golden when the ‘Canes travel to Boston College on Sept. 1? It’s the seminal question on fans’ minds as fall camp approaches. Memphis transfer Ryan Williams took all of the first-team snaps in the spring, and generally played well, but he wasn’t challenged in April the way he will be in August. Junior Stephen Morris is expected to return after being sidelined with a back injury in the spring. Whoever wins the job will be challenged by a dearth of returning talent. Miami must develop replacements for last year’s best back, Lamar Miller, top receiver, Tommy Streeter, and two most reliable linemen, C Tyler Horn and G Brandon Washington. The running game appears to be the domain of Mike James and Eduardo Clements, who’ve stood out in practice. However, rookie Duke Johnson wasn’t signed in February to redshirt his first year. The rebuilding receiving corps is looking for breakout years from Allen Hurns, who caught 31 passes in 2011, and up-and-coming sophomore Rashawn Scott, one of the stars of spring. The Hurricanes need to improve up front, especially if they’re going to run the ball up to Golden’s expectation. RG Brandon Linder is the new anchor in the trenches, but he has to get more support from the likes of LT Malcolm Bunche and new center Shane McDermott.

Defense: Despite a slew of graduations and early defections, the Miami D should be alright for the upcoming season. There’s speed and young talent at every level, though, someone has to start creating more takeaways in 2012. It’s unconscionable that this program had just 15 turnovers in a dozen games, fewer than all but Duke in the ACC. DE Anthony Chickillo delivered a terrific debut in 2011, and has the look of a four-year starter and perennial all-star. Providing a presence in the middle of the line will be massive Darius Smith and Curtis Porter, who are better run-stuffers than pass rushers. The budding star at the second level is Denzel Perryman, the linebackers’ version of Chickillo in the trenches. Perryman was a rookie standout, laying the groundwork for what ought to be a breakout sophomore season. Miami’s stingiest unit on defense this season ought to be the secondary. At least that’s the plan heading into summer. The cornerbacks are good, especially if senior Brandon McGee can transform 2012 into a salary run season. The safeties, though, have a chance to be real good, even elite. With NFL scouts watching closely, Vaughn Telemaque has all the motivation he needs to come up with a big season.

T4. North Carolina

2012 CFN Pred: 7-5
2012 ACC Pred: 4-4

Offense: Goodbye, pro-style offense. Hello, spread. With the arrival of head coach Larry Fedora comes an up-tempo, no-huddle attack that aims to wear out defenses with its pace, intensity and perpetual motion. However, all spreads being different, Fedora and his staff will be installing a system that won’t abandon the ground game or the tight end. A frenetic form of balance is the goal. The Tar Heels have the personnel to pull it off, provided they can digest the playbook, formations and pace in time for the opener. There are few glaring holes on this unit. The backfield tandem of QB Bryn Renner and RB Giovani Bernard ranks among the best in the ACC. Erik Highsmith is poised to supplant Dwight Jones as the Renner’s go-to, big-play receiver. And the O-line, headed by the left side of OT James Hurst and OG Jonathan Cooper, will begin the year with 93 career starts. The talent is in place, but the comfort level with an entirely new system won’t come overnight. Flattening the learning curve will be this offense’s biggest hurdle to success in 2012.

Defense: Not unlike the offense, the Tar Heels defense is undergoing some philosophical changes as well. The team will showcase a different look in 2012, a 4-2-5 that employs versatile defenders, such as the Bandit and the Ram. Basically, Carolina, under coordinator Dan Disch, wants to dictate the tempo of the game, attacking on a regular basis. Disch requires his kids to be fast, assertive and well-conditioned since the program’s new up-tempo offense won’t provide many breathers off long drives. Only five starters are back, but thanks to the recruiting efforts of the last staff, the Heels should be able to fill the holes quickly. The team features next-level types in LB Kevin Reddick, DE Kareem Martin, DT Sylvester Williams and SS Tre Boston, the ingredients of a sound foundation. However, depth could be a problem, especially since the D wants to rotate liberally in order to keep everyone fresh.

5. Virginia

2012 CFN Pred: 6-6
2012 ACC Pred: 3-5

Offense: You have to crawl before you walk. The Virginia offense plans to start moving at a brisker pace this fall. The Cavaliers took a marked step forward in 2011, but still lacked the efficiency that coordinator Bill Lazor is seeking. Too many turnovers. Not enough red zone conversions. Hope for improvement comes in the form of QB Michael Rocco, a returning starter who has performed in the offseason as if he plans to keep his growing number of competitors at a comfortable distance. The junior’s best assets will be a deep, Perry Jones-led backfield and the bookend of tackles Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses. Rocco should be able to make the next move in his evolution provided someone other than Tim Smith emerges at wide receiver, and a shaky interior of the line holds up. The Cavs are getting close to being dangerous on offense, but still have plenty of room for growth entering the 2012 season.

Defense: Coordinator Jim Reid has been busy this offseason trying to revamp a defense that’s missing more than half of last season’s starters. The first and final lines of defense were hit particularly hard by graduation, with three of the Cavs’ four all-stars exhausting their eligibility. It’s a good thing that Reid’s boss, Mike London, has recruited so well lately, because many of those kids will be asked to support key veterans, such as DT Will Hill and linebackers Steve Greer and LaRoy Reynolds. Defending the pass will be a particular priority for the ‘Hoos, which need to ignite the pass rush and insert three new starters into the secondary. If opposing passers have too much time to survey the field, they’re liable to pick apart a defensive backfield breaking in newcomers at cornerback, free safety and strong safety. With London around, the D won’t be down for long, but it will be more vulnerable in 2012 than it was in 2011.

6. Duke
Predicted Overall Record: 3-9
Predicted Conference Record: 0-8

Offense: The Blue Devils continue to move the ball under David Cutcliffe … and sputter when it matters most. The offense has the potential to turn the corner, especially with QB Sean Renfree and WR Conner Vernon back, but only if it executes more consistently in the red zone. Renfree, now entering his third year as a starter, has one final campaign to put it all together and become a more dangerous downfield passer. Vernon is the team’s best player, a precise route-runner who doesn’t drop balls. More help, though, will be needed from a necrotic running game, a young cast of receivers and a veteran line. Seven starters, led by the right side of T Perry Simmons and G Laken Tomlinson, bolster a front wall that needs to finally play up to the level of its considerable experience.

Defense: If Duke doesn’t have the worst defense among the BCS conference schools, it sure is in the discussion. The Blue Devils allowed at least 31 points in their final four games, a trend the staff hopes to snap this fall. It’ll be a challenge. Not only is the school painfully light on elite ACC talent, but it appears incapable of producing money plays, notching just 17 sacks and a dozen turnovers in 2011. In an attempt to shake things up, second-year coach Jim Knowles, the program’s third coordinator in the last four years, is inserting a third safety in place of one linebacker. He wants to get his 11 best athletes on the field in order to keep pace with some of the league’s faster offenses. Encouraging news comes from the return of DE Kenny Anunike who looked unblockable last September before injuring his knee. Top LB Kelby Brown, too, is on the mend after undergoing knee surgery, and expects to be ready for the summer. The secondary has the numbers, but needs to start playing more soundly if the D as a whole is to improve.

ATLANTIC
- 2012 Boston College Preview | 2012 Clemson Preview
- 2012 Florida State Preview | 2012 Maryland Preview
- 2012 NC State Preview | 2012 Wake Forest Preview 
 
COASTAL
- 2012 Duke Preview | 2012 Georgia Tech Preview
- 2012 Miami Preview | 2012 North Carolina Preview 
- 2012 Virginia Preview | 2012 Virginia Tech Preview 

- 2012 ACC Preview
- 2012 ACC Unit Rankings
- 2012 CFN Schedules & Picks
- 2012 CFN All-ACC Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 ACC Atlantic Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2012 ACC Coastal Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish